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Pablo Quintanilla: COVID and Latinx

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COVID’s toll is evident in the number of infections and deaths, but Pablo Quintanilla says the impact on the Latinx community is especially hard.

I live 13 blocks from North Central San Mateo, a neighborhood normally teeming with activity. There are churches, street vendors selling “paletas, ” soccer games all weekend. The MLK Jr. community center seems to anchor it all.

Unbeknownst to most, COVID is devastating North Central. Because housing is more dense, it’s cheaper to live there. Families are crowded into small apartments to share rent costs, resulting in high rates of COVID infection ... and ultimately, undue loss of life.

There’s a perception that COVID affects primarily older Americans. Actually, COVID is disproportionately affecting younger people of color. Of Latinx peopIe who have died from COVID, a fourth have been younger than 60. The figure is 6 percent for whites.

I worry that we discuss COVID as someone else’s disease when it really is everyone’s problem. There’s collective loss when some among us are unwell. Losing a family member is devastating for anybody. But for neighborhoods like North Central, losing a breadwinner destroys families if not whole communities.


Black, Latinx and Native-American men and women of all ages are out cooking, cleaning, delivering, farming, nursing, caring for others’ children, building. They are putting themselves and their families at higher risk because most can’t work from home.

But what to do?

Be aware and care. COVID is bringing immense physical and economic hardship for many people of color. Acknowledge and learn from their stories. We’re in this together. Take action. Consider volunteering as a contact tracer or helping deliver food to families.

Bottom line: COVID is not someone else’s disease. It really is our collective problem. No Io olvides!

With a Perspective, I’m Pablo Quintanilla.

Pablo Quintanilla is the responsible innovation manager for a major tech company.

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